Indulg'd by every active thought


A Contemplation

Primary Text:

MS Wellesley, 143-6.
Indulg'd by ev'ry active thought
    When upwards they wou'd fly
Nor can Ambition be a fault
    If plac'd above the sky

When humbld first we meekly crave
    Remission for the past
We from the fore-tasts which we have
    May guesse our Joys at last

Then let my Contemplation soar
    And Heav'n my Subject be
Though low on Earth in nature poor
    Some prospect we may see

And now that scene before me stands
    And large Possessions there
Where none usurps anothers Lands
    And Theives we do not fear

All Care all Sorrow all Surprise
    Fly from that World of peace
Where tears are wip'd from clouded Eyes
    And Sighs for ever cease

Decay or Sicknesse find no place
    In that untainted Air
But still th'incorruptable Face
    Shall as at first be fair

Agility in pace or flight
    The Blessed shall convey
Where e're the Lamb more fair then light
    Shall lead the radiant way

Whilst Praises in Seraphick Sounds
    The blisful road shall trace
And musick seem to passe the bounds
    Even of unbounded Space

Such balmy Odours shall disperse
    As from the Bridegroom's pores
The holy Canticles rehearse
    Fell on the Bolts and Doors

When to his Spouse the well belov'd
    More white then Jordans Flocks
Spake whilest her hand the Barrs remov'd
    And dew-drops fill'd his locks

The Crosse shall there triumphant rise
    And ev'ry Eye shall scan
That promis'd Ensign in the skies
    Close by the Son of Man

With Christ there Charles's Crown shall meet
    Which Martirdom adorns
And prostrate lye beneath his feet
    My Coronet of Thorns

The Lord to whom my life is joyn'd
    For Conscience here opprest
Shall there full retribution find
    And none his Claimes molest

Hypocrisy and feign'd pretence
    To cover foul Dissigns
Shall blusshing fly as far from thence
    As to the deepest Mines

We there shall know the use of Foes
    Whom here we have forgiven
When we shall thank them for those woes
    Which pav'd our way to Heaven

There all good things that we have mist
    With Int'rest shall return
Whilst those who have each wish possest
    Shall for that fullnesse mourn

There Coventry of Tufton's Line
    For piety renown'd
Shall in transcending virtues Shine
    And Equally be Crown'd

Around her shall the Chains be spread
    Of Captives she has freed
And ev'ry Mouth that she has fed
    Shall testify the deed

Whilst Scools supplied to mend our youth
    Shall on the List be shown
A Daughter and a Mother both
    In Her the Church shall own

The Gospell crosse the seas rehearst
    By her diffusive aid
And fifty-thousand pounds dispers'd
    Shall there be largely paid

My Heart by her supporting Love
    In all its Cares upheld
For that, to see her Crown improve
    With transports shall be fill'd

From Gratitude what graces flow
    What endlesse pleasures spring
From Prayers whilst we remain below
    Above whilst Praise we Sing

And Mammon wert thou well employ'd
    What Mansions might be wonne
Whilst Woolsey's Pallace lyes destroy'd
    And Marlbrough's is not done.

Whilst to this Heav'n my Soul Aspires
    All Suff'rings here are light
He travells pleas'd who but desires
    A Sweet Repose at Night

Secondary Ed:

1988 Ellis d'Alessandro prints Wellesley text, 174-6; McGovern & Hinnant, 138-141.


1992 McGovern 217-9.


The imagery and focus recall Anne's "Solitude" (which appeared unacknowledged in 1696 Tate). It is an improvement because Anne speaks so simply and directly. In earlier poems she is obsessed by guilt, self-pity, and an intense drive into death. She remembers Margaret Tufton, Lady Coventry, a relation of Thomas Thynne, the 1st Viscount Weymouth whose mother's maiden name was Coventry, and whose favorite niece, according to Anne, was Catherine Tufton (she's mentioned in Anne Finch's poem for Serena's birthday); she died January 1, 1710, according to Heneage's diary (F-H 282, p 29). Anne asserts that Lady Coventry and another "Tufton" (Lamira, Lady Salisbury) supported her with love, did many good deeds and will at last be reunited together forever in Heaven. Finch is still feeling guilty (over her "ambition"); also pathetic is the way she has to cope with what she sees as deliberately sent to her (death from God) and particularly the comment that she can only hope that poetry is not a fault when "plac'd above the sky."


These stanzas follow the above Sunday evening's performance in the MS Wellesley, and may be linked to it as well as to the three devotional poems after Anne Finch's 1715 illness. Cameron suggests her personal bitterness on Heneage's behalf which breaks through here and there in the poem ("The Lord to whom my life is joyn'd/For conscience here opprest/Shall there full retirbution find ... ") dates this between Heneage's second Chancery trial, August 5, 1715, and November 8, 1716 when the receivers actually came onto the Winchilsea estate to take possession of what they were owed. The comment on Blenhein in the poem ("And Marlbrough's [Palace] is not done") would also seem to date the poem after the summer of 1716 when famously building was once again resumed, but family apartments themselves still not habitable (Blenheim was begun in 1706).
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